With a mix of strutting and stuttering, St Albans City brushed aside Tonbridge Angels, 3-1 on Saturday to maintain the only unbeaten record in the top six levels of English football and claim pole position in National League South.

Moving to the top of the table for the first time since August 2017 was the perfect outcome for Ian Allinson’s boys as Clarence Park welcomed back spectators after a gap of nine months, but there were certainly several moments of concern for City supremo.

St Albans were unchanged from a midweek draw at Oxford City but the Angels made one change from their last outing with former Saint Khale Da Costa sidelined through injury.

Tonbridge, beaten on their only other two visits to the Park, stunned the expectant home supporters by taking the lead on six minutes with an excellent goal; the first that St Albans had conceded for 502 minutes.

From Kristian Campbell’s throw down the Angels left, Tommy Wood headed the ball onto Ben Greenhalgh and the former Dartford player crossed left-footed to the back post for the unmarked Joe Turner to volley cleanly into the Hatfield Road net from six yards.

Tonbridge pushed forward with confidence immediately after the goal and Michael Johnson had to be alert to tip over a cross by Greenhalgh that deflected off the boot of Michael Clark.

Having taken a while to get into their stride City gave notice of what was to come when a ferocious, goal-bound drive by Luke Warner-Eley caught James Folkes in the midriff and put the winded defender out of action for a couple of minutes.

The game restarted with a drop ball in City’s favour some five yards wide of the apex of the penalty area. Warner-Eley immediate clipped the ball towards the near post where Mitchell Weiss, ten yards out, beat John Henly with an outstanding header just inside the goalkeeper’s right-hand upright.

It was stylish way to celebrate City’s 400th home goal in National League South.

Now it was City’s turn to up the ante and after a Tom Bender effort was touched out for a corner, Zane Banton played the set piece to Shaun Jeffers whose shot from ten yards was beaten away by the sprawling Henly.

Tonbridge replied in kind with a spell of pressure that ended with Johnson saving in some comfort from D’Sean Theobalds.

City had the better of the remainder of the half with strike partners Weiss and Jeffers having shots saved, Solomon Nwabuokei had a header tipped over the bar and Bender saw his header from a Banton corner kicked off the goal-line.

Attacking down the slope during the second half, City almost went ahead just before the hour when Warner-Eley burst down the left and cut the ball towards the near post where Weiss did well to gain possession and lay a pass into the path of Jeffers. City’s top scorer was denied on the goal-line and Munashe Sundire was just unable to turn home the rebound.

Tonbridge had defended well at times to keep City at bay but their good work was undone on 70 minutes when an in-swinging left-footed free-kick by Warner-Eley was sliced into his own by Angels skipper Sonny Miles as Jeffers waited to pounce.

Seven minutes later and the game was as good as over as a contest when another set-piece led to the third City goal.

Johnson played the ball out to Clark and from the left-back’s long ball down the flank Jeffers cut into the penalty area only to be taken out by Rian Bray, who had attempted to cut out a cross but was fooled as the City striker dragged the ball back.

Jeffers struck the resulting spot kick straight down the middle as Henly dived to his right.

City played possession football in the Tonbridge half in some style during the closing stages but the game had a seven-minute delay after City skipper Bender landed badly and suffered a possible dislocated shoulder.

Tonbridge ought to have reduced the arrears during added time when Greenhalgh broke down the left and sent in a cross that Johnson parried onto the head of Turner. With the goal seemingly at his mercy, the Tonbridge man looked on as his header grazed the outside of the post on its way out of play.

City’s haul of 27 points from 11 games means that the club will be top of the National League South at Christmas for the first time since the league’s formation in 2004, and top of any table during the festive period since being at the summit of Division One of the Isthmian League in 1984.

St Albans City: M.Johnson, T.Bender (D.Diedhiou 85), K.Wiltshire, J.Kaloczi, M.Clark, S.Nwabuokei (D.Noble 71), S.Jeffers (C.Onokwai 90), Z.Banton, M.Weiss, M.Sundire, L.Warner-Eley. Subs not used: D.Stanley, R.Matrevics.

Tonbridge Angels: J.Henly, J.Folkes, K.Campbell, T.Parkinson, S.Miles, R.Bray, Z.Guerfi (J.Splatt 71), D.Theobalds, T.Wood, B.Greenhalgh, J.Turner. Subs not used: J.Parter, J.Gugas-Cowin, R.Botley.